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Unemployed Protests in Tunisia: Between Grassroots Activism and Formal Organization

  • Samiha Hamdi
  • Irene Weipert-FennerEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Middle East Today book series (MIET)

Abstract

This chapter analyzes and compares the two most important types of unemployed mobilization in contemporary Tunisia: first, spontaneous, mostly disruptive contentious actions by unemployed people who operate outside formal organizations at the local level, using the example of the Gafsa mining basin and, second, formally organized activism within the framework of the Union of Unemployed Graduates (Union des Diplômés Chômeurs—UDC), the only unemployed organization at the national level. The chapter shows that unemployed mobilization in post-revolutionary Tunisia has been quite significant, but that despite the greater political freedom that theoretically would allow unemployed groups to join forces and rally together, unemployed protests are characterized by growing fragmentation. In order to explain the general lack of cooperation of unemployed activists with each other, as well as with other societal and political actors, the chapter systematically compares the two different types of unemployed mobilization. Based on extensive fieldwork, it finds that at the grassroots level, being “political” or “politicized” remains a negative attribute, which expresses a deeply felt mistrust of political institutions and parties, as well as social (trade union) organizations and even the UDC. This constitutes a major obstacle to any form of social and political cooperation of unemployed activists.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SfaxSfaxTunisia
  2. 2.Peace Research Institute FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany

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